consumers


The more things change the more they stay the same. And that is no difference when looking at the news…

1. Canada loses shelf… not self

Well it seems as if the head of steam being built up here in the US is at last hitting Canada. Yes, the hot air created by the Republicans at the convention seems to contribute to climate change for their neighbors up north. Can’t be any other reason now can it? Republicans don’t believe in global warming so it must be the hot heads down in St Paul who did this. Or windbags. Poor old Canada. They have so little going for them when it comes to history and now they just lost an ancient ice shelf that is almost the size of Manhattan. Luckily Canada isn’t as populated as that little island off the east coast. They suspect only one person died but the nation is in mourning because about 7,286 moose died. That is the same ratio of moose per person in Canada. The Canadian authorities are still counting all Canadians to try and confirm the death of the unlucky fellow. One person is counting every Canadian and is expected to be done by early Saturday. All Canadians was asked to stand in a straight line but there was a delay because the counting guy had to go to a blubber fest first. He’ll start counting on Friday evening.

2. “Uncertainty looms in Sudan”

That is the actual headline of the report – “Uncertainty looms in Sudan”. WTF? What was there before? Hope? Love? Peace? Stability? Democracy? Ubuntu? Change? Certainty? I think not. Can “uncertainty” be a weather pattern? The Sudan version of a monsoon? It comes in and destroys everything in its path. Or maybe “Uncertainty” is some god we never heard of. You know, like Apollo or Zeus or Atlas. Wonder what “Uncertainty” does? Squash all sense of justice in his path and murder the innocent for breakfast. Sound about right. Also known by another name. President Omar “The Bastard” al-Bashir. No. Sorry. “Uncertainty” would be a step up for most Sudanese. At the moment they only have “Genocide”.

3. Obelix with no Astrix?

The great Obelisk of Axum returned home at last. Okay. It’s been there for a while already. About 3 years. It was unveiled this week. Come on people, it’s African time. You know. “Just now” means anything between within the next two hours and 2 decades. But we should be happy the Axum Obelisk is back. Now if we can only find the great Astrix of Governance somewhere…

4. From Palin to Pale-One

You thought Palin was more than just a pretty face? Think again. The McCain campaign now says that she won’t be talking to the media on foreign or domestic policy. Apparently “the American people don’t care whether Sarah Palin can answer specific questions about foreign and domestic policy… the American people will learn all they need to know” (and all they deserve to know) from Palin’s scripted speeches and choreographed appearances on the campaign trail and in campaign ads. Talk about Hollywood moments and acting like a celebrity. Mr McLame and Pale-one, this is called acting and not leadership. Maybe scared that she can’t hold her own? Here is your problem. She might be able to pull the wool over the eyes of (some of) the average American voters out there but you might have a bit of a problem if she travels outside these US borders. Haha! Actually, I wouldn’t mind being a fly on the wall. Putin will have her for lunch. Oh man you are in so much trouble with this one. Not quite the PTA now is it?

5. Let’s be honest… hum, maybe not

Citibank used to have a nice little racket going. And hardly anyone noticed. What they did was to remove the positive balances on the credit card accounts of their poorest and “deadest” clients. Yes, they targeted the vulnerable (poor) and really vulnerable (dead). But those damn pesky little whistle blowers. Someone thought that stealing money from their clients might be going too far. And that damn liberal State Attorney of California agreed. And won! Yes, poor Citibank lost settled the case and paid all the money back. And a bit of a fine to top it off. The clincher? An executive trying to justify their decision really went all out with the “feel sorry for me” line. With difficulty. He said, “Stealing from our customers is a business decision, not a legal decision.” The same executive later said that the sweep program could not be stopped because it would reduce the executive bonus pool. I don’t think he gets the humanity part that well. Maybe he was taking a bit off the top because he is missing a bit on top. For some or other reason I don’t feel that sorry for Citibank.

Hey, I have a job as well! Imagine that. Someone actually pays me to have an opinion. Anyway… Thought I should give you a peek at the type of stuff I write for work. This will go on our work blog in the next few days. It’s been edited. You’ll see that! A bit different from my usual style and topic. But it gives you an insight into some of my other work-related thoughts.

Build it (green) and they will buy?

Everything seems to be turning green. And there is nothing wrong with that – companies creating new, innovative products and services that are good for them and good for the environment. But consumers haven’t completely bought into this yet. A number of green products aren’t flying off the shelves the way companies anticipated. Why is it that the green revolution has taken companies by storm, but not consumers? With the environment at the forefront of consumer concerns, it makes one wonder, why consumers aren’t dropping the bad stuff and buying the good stuff. We build it, but they just won’t come.

Why?

Some products are a big hit with consumers – the Prius and CFL light bulbs are taking off in a big way. So why aren’t they buying green shoes, food, computers, etc.?

There are many reasons why people buy certain products and not others – price, functionality, “coolness,” brand loyalty, etc. One often overlooked factor is: how do the environmental aspects of the product help the consumer?

Let’s first look at why the Prius and the CFL light bulb are so popular. They allow consumers to feel better about themselves when they use these products. A person starts their Prius and immediately feels “greener” than their neighbor with the gas-guzzling SUV. They feel better and more environmentally responsible with every mile they drive. It is the action of driving that makes them “green.” The same goes for a CLF light bulb. They feel better about themselves each and every time they turn on the lights. The simple action of switching on the light enables them to feel like an environmental “activist” – that they are making a difference.

You said you wanted a green car...

You said you wanted a green car...

The environmental benefit doesn’t come from the company making the Prius or the CFL light bulb. The “goodness” comes from the consumer using the product instead of an alternative product. A Prius isn’t a car – it is an environmental tool for the consumer. The CFL light bulb doesn’t just provide light – it provides the consumer with an opportunity to make a difference through the simple action of flipping the switch.

The success of these “green” products lies in enabling the consumer to take action. The act of making a difference through using these products makes them successful. So many green failures can be traced back to lacking this fundamental element – allowing consumers to feel “green” each time they use a product. When all the “goodness” is in the making of the product and not in the using of the product, no other action is expected from the consumer. The only action the consumer needs to take is buying the product. But the act of buying is not perceived as an act of environmental activism. This doesn’t allow the consumer to feel that they are taking environmental action.

Buying a green product, that’s green qualities are all in the production phase, leaves the consumer with a very basic question: what about me?

You want to sell a green product? Then let your consumer be part of the “greenness.” Give them something that they can do apart from just buying the product. Give them a way to take action. Let it be easy – like starting a Prius or flipping a light switch. Give consumers simple actions that make them feel like they are making a difference each and every time they use your product. Let them be part of the change.

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More green stuff from me:

Can I interest you in a green Blow Up Doll?

Okay, so I don’t really want you to buy a blowup doll. Not even a green one. But it seems as if we think consumers will buy anything green – or rather that a green product will have an edge over competing not-so-green products. Consumers might be more interested in the environmental factors of a…

How friendly is eco-friendly?

Every single day we are bombarded by someone telling us to be more eco-friendly in our lives – and the choices we make. But can we really be eco-friendly? …

What’s the emissions of your local warlord’s car – and do you care?

Man, these umlungu’s over here really like their big cars. Okay, not all of them. And I have more of a problem with those who don’t drive big cars than those who do. They are all up in arms about the impact on global climate and the emissions by these big trucks – bakkies back…

It’s not always greener on the other side

Everything is green nowadays. It’s the talk of the town. Newspapers are full of the latest green apocalypse heading our way. Bloggers blog green left, right and center – with fonts and pictures to match. Activist are up in arms about green washing and washing our greens. Governments want to govern what green means. The…

We eat meat – get used to it

Being green or protecting wildlife means almost nothing outside US and Europe. There are bigger issues facing people in places like Burundi, Guyana, Yemen and North Korea. They continue to struggle to survive each day. The cheapest bidder always wins when you live off less than $1 a day. And you don’t know if there…

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I know, I haven’t done this for a while. It’s a combination of China and cocktails. Too long visiting one and too long just holding on to the other one. Hum, actually that goes for both of them… But let’s give it a shot.

1. Please sir, may I have some more?

Oh now we know we are in a recession baby. The land of true whiners, (Not-So) Great Britian, are feeling the pinch. And they are taking it out on the kids! Oh deary, deary me. You see, like all financial institutions, The Bank of Mom and Dad has been hit by the credit crunch. And they are just not that much into giving at the moment. Not enough cash to go around. So what did they do? Cut down on the pocket money. Those poor English roses just can’t buy the nice strawberry and cream at Wimbledon anymore. Shame poor little darlings. I don’t think I will spill too many tears on this one. It’s more like the yobs can’t afford the Burberry clothes anymore. Or the beers they drink in the park. Or, the latest craze, knives, anymore. Nah. Don’t feel too sorry for them. Britain has changed into a nanny state many years ago and I am sure the government will find a new way to pamper their little yobs darlings. There is no Great Britain anymore. The only “G” that goes with Britain is “Good god” Britain. And remember to role your eyes when you say it.

2. The law is going to the dogs

This woman called Leona Helmsley let her fortune go to the dogs. You know, she left about $8 billion to look after the poor mutts of this world. Stupid? Of course. Silly? Without a doubt. But now some wise ass Boston College professor claims that “we” are giving almost half of that money and not her. Why? Because the donation is not taxed and therefore indirectly comes from tax money – my money and your money. Really. It’s a stupid argument to make. Yes, there are better ways to spend the almost $4 billion that comes from “us”. But he makes one hell of an assumption to think that government will spend it on anything useful. I would rather let Skippy eat steak every night thanks to Crazy Auntie Leona than spend one single dollar more on a stupid war. Leona might be crazy (and she was as ugly as hell with that all that cosmetic surgery), but not as crazy as some of those people in DC. I have one specific guy in mind… And I really don’t want to give him anything more to play with.

3. A country of Wieners

So Gramm made a bit of a “misspoke”. Calling Americans a country of whiners. I would shut up if I was Gramm. His surname is way to silly to take seriously. I mean really, it sounds very similar to what we will call lightweight in the metric system… Anyway. I actually almost agree with him. But I think he got the wording wrong. It’s not “whiner” it’s “wieners”. For two reasons. Firstly, you guys really like hotdogs. And with baseball season in full swing it makes sense with the wiener sausages and all. But, more seriously, we also use the term “wiener” back home to talk about someone who gets scared easily. Or who falls for some weird scary story. Like in “Donner dude, you are such a wiener. That’s not a shark, it’s a dude with his wienersticking out.” (This is another meaning of wiener – meaning… hum… go check Wikipedia.) I mean really. Scared of Iran? You can’t rule through fear. Because you will end up fighting everyone and hating everyone and not trusting anyone. Get a grip people. You (we) need a new leader with some real leadership. Stop being a such wieners.

4. I don’t give a flying…

Airlines are being hit pretty hard by the high oil prices. So hard that they are now asking people to lobby government on their behalf. Hum. I don’t think so. You start NOT charging me $15 per bag. Or maybe you can start arriving on time – or leaving on time for that matter. And maybe you can serve me crap food instead of no food on these long haul flights. And a drink while I am stuck on the tarmac for a few hours after another “delay”. And just maybe you start upgrading your plane to a post-Nixon grade planes. Or include something more entertaining than barfbags to keep me entertained. And a little more legroom than than a Grade A classroom. And I haven’t even started with you yet American Airlines… You want to know why you can’t compete? Because you are incompetent and know nothing about customer service. We’ll pay more if you pay more attention. Go ask why some of the other airlines like BA, Virgin, Comair (in South Africa), China Air, Air Cameroon and many others can all look after us and still turn a profit. Come back when you have an answer. I won’t hold my breath. But you did give me an idea. Maybe I should start lobbying government to open up the air to some foreign competition. Yes, people might bitch for the loss of “sovereignty” but they’ll very quickly forget once they sit in comfy chairs and bite into a nice juicy BA sandwich. One they didn’t have to pay $5 dollars for.

5. The world got neutered… by President Bush

Sometimes the world is willing to show a bit of guts (or show they have balls) and take on a leader who is truly evil and (possibly) guilty of turning on his own people. Sudan in this case. President Omar al-Bashir of Sudan might just be charged with war crimes committed in Darfur. Makes sense doesn’t it? We know what has been going on over there. Murder, rape and mayhem. And that was on a good day. So the world decided to take a stand. And charge the guy. Of course the guy will say “I am not guilty”. That’s what the court is there for, right? In this case the International Criminal Court. But we won’t see this guy being taken to court – all thanks to President Bush. WTF? You heard me right. Blame President Bush for the ICC not having the teeth to take this guy on. Why? Because the guy is using the same argument President Bush used against the ICC. They both claim that the ICC have no jurisdictionover anything. They don’t recognize the ICC. This was the only court that could tackle Serbian war criminals. But President Bush wants special treatment for US citizens. He argues that everyone should be equal in the eyes of the law – but some are more equal than others. He doesn’t want Americans to be held accountable to this court even if they have committeda crime against humanity or genocide for that matter. Yes, everyone else should be covered by the ICC. Just not Americans. Do you truly believe Americans should have a higher right in this world? Should Americans be above the law? I don’t think we will ever see the day an American will be charged at the ICC. It’s aimed at warmongers and despots. but we have to make sure everyone is covered by the same law. Shouldn’t we? Your argument is like me saying that me and my family should be immune from being charged for theft as we will never do anything like that. Is that okay with you? I promise not to steal… Come on Bush – you are either for us or against us… The Darfur blood is on your hands. What options did you leave us with? Invading as a first option? I guess you don’t like it when people first try to take the legal route? It’s easier to go in with guns blazing isn’t it? You set the precedent. Invade Sudan – even the rest of the world think he is evil and worse than Sadam used to be. Be proud – you and the President of Sudan have something in common… I hope you are proud of your legacy.

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That’s it folks. Have a splendid weekend! Hope that sounded English enough. I am especially sour with them at the moment because they are beating us in cricket. Unheard of, I know…

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I am getting a bit sick and tired of hearing about bottled water. You know, the “big issue” of how bad bottled water is. Worse than cigarettes. And alcohol. And drugs. And anything else you can think of. The new evil. It makes you want to go and hug Exxon. Really. Come on. It’s bloody bottled water people.

Almost every mayor of across the US is telling their constituents how bad it is. That it litters the city. That it is just sooo bad. That you should drink from the tap. Hum. Well now. Why don’t you first stop the killing in the cities before you start bitching about the litter. Why don’t you start recylding plastic instead recyling old crappy politics? Get your house in order before you start bitching about a bloody plastic bottle. Really. If a plastic bottle is the worse of your worries…

And these “activists” go on and on about the water scarcity. Hum. Duh. You grow industry and populations and the water levels drop. Not difficult math you know. You know how much bottled water takes out of the ground? Around 0.002%. Doesn’t seem logical to me to start there if you are concerned about water scarcity. Maybe you should start with where the big water “eaters” are. And where do you think this is? Farming. Yes, farming. Up to 80% of water goes into farming. Yes, they need to use the water to produce the crops. But they are also some of the most inefficient users. Just spraying it all over the place. And don’t think of the farmer in the movies. No! Most farming is done by large commercial farms owned by large multinationals. They don’t give a damn about the water. Or the land. or the people. Just about the profits.

Oh yes. They tell me all about the leaching of the plastic bottle. And that I should drink tap. You know what is in that tap? Iron levels too high. Lead in the pipes. Pharmaceutical waste. Chlorine to kill the bugs. Etc. Etc. etc. Damned if I don’t and damned if I do. By the way – stupid. I drink the bottle when I am on the road. Not while at home. You gonna bring me a personal tap with when I travel? And want a refill? Don’t give me the fountain crap. You know where that mouth has been that just drank from it? Huhu. Don’t think so baby.

It’s just stupid. This bottled water attack. Does it make sense? Most likely if you want to save money. But don’t think it will make you save the earth because plastic bottles just don’t have enough of an impact. Less than 0.05% of the waste in landfills.

But it’s easy. An easy target. Easy to go after the bottle of water. Because you hold it in your hand and make an easy connection. So you drop the bottle of water and reach for a… Coke. And up goes obesity levels. Stupid campaign. Stupid idea. Campaigning in the MTV era… Just grab any campaign and let’s see who will fall for it. I think the bottled water campaign is like the Backstreet Boys – empty, little substance, no real impact, but easy to sell because it looks good. “As long as you love me”. Bah!

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Here we go again…

1. The world growing bigger?

The only problem is that not everything else is expanding with it. I know it is disturbing. But don’t worry. We are. Humans. And other planets. And animals. At least until we slaughter them and turn them into burgers and steaks. Even our measurements are expanding. And no, I don’t mean our waistlines. Okay. Not only our waistlines. Also our waste-lines. No idea what that means, but it sounded good when I wrote it. Anyway… I thought the world must be growing while our food and drinks stay the same size. Why? Because everything is getting smaller. Bought a salad the other day and realized that it is smaller than what I remembered from the last time I bought a salad. But then I had a closer look. Damnit. Can you believe it. Even salads are being reduced in size. No – not because of obesity. Rather because of profits. With “raw” materials and overheads going up they had to cut cost somewhere. Why not start with the portions they sell? No problem. Right? Well, I don’t have a problem with it. But it would have been nice of them to tell me. I felt a bit cheated. Dirty. And looking at the smaller packet made me feel all grown up and bigger than what I feel really comfortable with. I felt a bit like Alice for a minute. But, as you might know, I am not a big salad eater. So it didn’t faze me. But I lost it when I realized that they are doing it to beer! Bloody hell people! That’s a line you should never, ever cross. Do what you want with us, but leave our beer alone. You thought President Bush got all pissed at Iraq trying to kill his daddy. Don’t mess with an African and his beer. But they did. Selling us 14 ounce beers but passing it off as a 16 ounce beer! Sacrilege! But the trend continues. Cars are getting smaller. Which is a good thing. My ego can fit into a Mini. But those guys with the big trucks and girls with the big SUV’s. Not sure if their ego can fit into a Ford Focus. I mean really, they only just manage to squeeze into a Hummer. Yeah. The world is shrinking. No, you aren’t getting fat. It’s the clothes shrinking… We’ll all look like Lance Armstrong soon. Tights everywhere. Okay, maybe with two… hum… you know. Oh, I was lying about the salad. It is shrinking, but I am African. We don’t do salad. A good salad is anything not meaty – like chicken.

2. Getting ready to be arrested

I am off to China this weekend. But I’ll tell you about that later. Once I am back. Still waiting for my visa, but hopefully that will be sorted today. There is a reason why I use the name Angry African you know… Anyway. I have been talking to my IT guy about staying connected while I am over there. Apparently it won’t be a good idea to blog from there. Not only do they sometimes “relieve” you of the burden carrying your laptop around, but don’t like bloggers speaking out that much. Not much at all. You see, China, Burma, Iran and Egypt heads the list of countries arresting people because they blog about their political views. I am safe then I guess. I don’t do political views… What I write is nothing but an impartial view of the world and what is happening around us. So I should be safe. But many bloggers are not. 334 got arrested in Burma alone. But thanks to their “somewhat” restrictive government, these could not be verified. When you drop of the face of the earth… 

3. No workers, no problem

Biofuels are held up as either the answer to all our problems or the next disaster to hit us. I don’t have much of a view on this one. I think biofuels could be part of the solution (not the solution), but the current approach sucks. Using corn and sugar just don’t make sense. it pushes food prices right up and we cut down forests meant to protect us from emissions. Sounds like stupid economics to me. And Brazil has a huge problem. They are cutting down the Amazon rainforest faster than you can say “Hummer”. I mean really. 1,123 square kilometers were cut down in April alone… So Unica, the Brazilian ethanol lobby decided to go on the charm offensive. They invited a few journalist around to show them all the good stuff they are doing. Apart from the cutting down of trees that they forgot to mention, most of their ideas are just fine. Like going all mechanical in the cutting of the cane. Less pollution because they don’t have to burn them anymore. But there was something else that caught my eye. The reporter only mentions it as a “by the way”. But it struck me that Unico might still need some more PR training. Unico said that companies are going all mechanical on us because it addresses two challenges. One, the pollution. Check. Secondly, it will get rid of the cane-cutters and therefore also get rid of any labor problems and labor critics. Hum. Maybe you shouldn’t have mentioned that one. Keep spinning the “we chop down trees to be green” line. It’s not only more believable, it also makes the “little people” go away.

4. The two stooges

Tweedledum and Tweedledee are meeting as we speak. I mean Mbeki and Mugabe are meeting. In Zimbabwe. Not sure why. Maybe to discuss the weather. Or the latest fashion. Or what curtains to pick for their new houses. Or fining new and more spouses. Bloody idiots. Look. I have supported Mbeki through thick and thin. Defended him wherever I could. I even defended his initial position on HIV/Aids in South Africa. And justified his initial approach to the Zimbabwean crisis. But it has gone too far. People are dying in South Africa because of his idiotic HIV/Aids policies and lack of action. And people are dying in Zimbabwe because of a tyrant that has gone bonkers. Mbeki and his “quiet diplomacy” just sounds like “staying quiet”. Sorry you two idiots. Time’s up. You are not welcome anymore. Just take your stuff and go sit in the corner. And be quiet. We have a name for people like you. It starts with an “m”. “Moer-something” in Afrikaans and “Mother-something” in English. Just go. Don’t hang your curtains. Hang your heads in shame. Or just hang your heads.

5. McCain inspiring old white men in Europe

I don’t think so. Okay, maybe he does if you include the arms dealers. But other than that, McCain inspires people outside the US about as much as Osama Bin Laden inspires tolerance. yes, there might be one or two out there who would fall for them. But they are loonies and at the fringe. But Obama. Now that is another story. He isn’t even President (yet) and he is already inspiring people across the world. telling them to break out of their racial stereotype and that anything is possible. That you can do it – no matter where you come from. France is going through some tough times right now. Race is at the forefront of so many debates. And they have violence on the streets of Paris. Because people feel hopeless. That in the land of Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité. Well educated blacks have to compete with 15-year old white kids for a job at McDonald’s. Nothing wrong with working at McDonald’s. But when the color of your skin stoops you from aiming higher, then you have a problem. But all of a sudden Obama is making people talk about race in France. And what it means. And how it can be overcome. And how it can inspire people to continue to fight the good fight for equality. Real equality. Not just a French word. That is inspiring. That is Obama. McSame? Well, apparently the old people in France likes his comb-over. It is so provincial.

See ya later.

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